12/03/2014 05:24 EST | Updated 02/02/2015 05:59 EST

Workers in Manitoba government liquor stores vote in favour of strike

WINNIPEG - Employees at Manitoba government liquor stores have given their union a strong strike mandate as it continues talks on a new contract.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union says 97 per cent of members who voted were in favour of a walkout.

The result means the union is allowed to set a strike date if no deal with the government is reached.

The two sides are to return to the bargaining table on Thursday.

A spokesperson from Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries says even part-time employees can make anywhere between $13.54 and $22.24 an hour.

Union president Michelle Gawronsky says the vote shows workers at Manitoba Liquor Marts stand in solidarity.

"The liquor workers want the employer to come back to the bargaining table prepared to bargain in earnest — without the concessions and with a reasonable wage offer,” she said Wednesday in a statement posted online.

The workers are looking for a wage increase and an improvement in benefits. They have already rejected a government offer the union says took away some contract provisions and reworked benefits.

(CJOB, The Canadian Press)